Savannah Levins is a reporter for WCNC, the NBC affiliate in Charlotte, NC. This multimedia journalist has won an Emmy, covered the Charleston massacre, and is a UGA graduate. She is our #WCW because of her professionalism, resilience, and persistence in the face of adversity.
1. What's your story? What makes you unique?
I was raised and educated in Georgia (go Dawgs!). I graduated early, in December 2014, with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and International affairs. Since then, through the grace of God and lots of hard work, I’ve managed to stand and work alongside some of the greatest journalists in the business. I still have to pinch myself sometimes.
2. What motivates you?
The people who believe in me, and the people who don’t. My family and friends have been incredibly supportive of me for so long, and that gives me drive every day to make them proud. By the same token, I am also motivated by rejection and doubt.
I carry with me memories of each time someone tried to coerce me off this career path (“You know you probably won’t be able to do that AND have kids, right? Are you SURE you want to work that hard and make no money?”), or questioned my abilities (“Where’s your cameraman? You don’t mean to tell me they make you carry that stuff all by yourself, sweetheart?”), or made flippant assumptions (Do you even really NEED a degree to read the news? Of COURSE they hired you, you’re a pretty blonde!).
It hasn’t been easy, I knew it wouldn’t be. But I always felt I would achieve my goals, and that was reinforced by every single person who thought I couldn’t. Side note: check out the poem “It Couldn’t Be Done” by Edgar Alber Guest. One of my favorites.
3. Who is a hero of yours?
There are so many incredible women I admire who have led the charge in this business bringing sophistication, intelligence, and credibility to journalism. From Ida B. Wells to Diane Sawyer, Christine Amanpour…I could go on. Of course, there are also some incredible male storytellers who inspire me to be better every day (try watching a Boyd Huppert story without tearing up. Seriously).
4. Give us a road map of your career.
How did you get to where you are today? My family moved to Georgia from Tennessee when I was 8 years old. To get us psyched for the big A-T-L, my parents brought us on tours of all the iconic tourist spots: Coca Cola, the Georgia Aquarium, and…The CNN Center. That was the first time I saw a newsroom, and I fell in love. I saved my admission ticket (year 2000, baby!) and swore I’d save it for my first job interview at CNN. I never changed my mind—I’m stubborn like that--and I’ve been hooked on news ever since.
5. What's your future plan? Your goals?
As I’ve grown in this industry I’ve come to realize how much it’s changing. I’m not sure what news will look like in the coming years, so I am keeping an open mind and continuing to follow my heart. At the end of the day I want to tell stories that matter. I want my work to improve the community, to unite rather than divide, to give a voice to people who feel like they have none. Whether that’s done in the field, from the anchor desk, or in some other capacity, I’m open to and excited for it.
6. If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?
Know your worth, discover your passions, and don’t let anyone else plan your life. There is a difference between paying your dues and holding yourself back. There is always something you can do to improve yourself and the people around you, stop finding excuses not to. Forging your own path is scary, but it’s worth it. You don’t want to find yourself stuck in a life that doesn’t fulfil you, knowing you were capable of so much more all along. Don’t compare your journey to others, just do your best, be strong, and be kind.
7. What is something you feel strongly about (a cause, belief, etc.)?
I love working with children. There are so many people who were never even given achance to succeed or cultivate passions. No one took them on tours of the CNN Center. No one told them they could be anything. No one pushed them to be better. I’ve worked as a mentor for years, and it is the most rewarding work in the world. A little encouragement and faith can go a long way with children. It’s a wonderful and simple investment in the future.
8. What's one of the coolest things you've ever done? I spent some time studying abroad at Oxford University in England (Trinity College), and had the chance to travel a good bit while I was there. It was incredible; academically challenging, culturally fascinating, and very humbling. Seeing just how big the world is, and how many people contribute to it, makes you realize how small your own insecurities and faults are in the grand scheme of things.
9. Anything we haven't asked that you'd like to talk about.
Growing up, every single day as I’d walk out the door to school, my dad would turn to me and say“do your best.” The words still resonate with me. At the end of the day, the number of ‘A’s’ you got doesn’t matter. All the times you were rejected or passed over don’t matter. Every harsh or critical word spoken to you doesn’t matter. The only thing that is really, truly important is that every day you wake up and try your best; At relationships, at work, at self-improvement. That way when disappointment and the various weights of the world inevitably fall heavy on your shoulders, you can still stand tall know you’ve given it your all. Try your best, and put love out into the world. That’s the best any of us can do.